Duncan Morrow speaking at the Conference
COMMUNITY and sports organisation Seaview Enterprises delivered its first annual conference recently.
The company, set up to promote good relations, community forums, sporting excellence, vocational education and training, welcoming and accessible facilities, best practice cross community collaboration and integration seen a host of speakers discuss and ask the question: Can sport build a shared society?
The conference at Landsdown Hotel, Antrim Road Belfast, analysed the significance of sport in addressing the past and overcoming current barriers within Northern Ireland and was hosted by TV sports personality Jackie Fullerton.
Chairman, Seaview Enterprises Robert White said of the conference: “Seaview Enterprises provides an opportunity for people, from all backgrounds, to come together through sport to promote good relations and mutual respect.
“With funding from the SEUPB Peace Programme, initiatives such as ours, have an opportunity to develop meaningful community relations and promote inclusive sport, free from discrimination and regardless of race and religion.
“Our Conference was one such example and we are delighted with its success in helping to deal with issues from the past and building towards a shared future.”
Bernard Thompson, project manager at Seaview, added: “This was the first conference that we have hosted and on the back of the recent Haass talks in Belfast with our political leaders looking at sensitive issues, we wanted to look at our sport can play a pivotal role in helping to deal with the past.
“The conference was a great success and feedback received has been fantastic. Our choice of topic certainly created positive debate subs reflection by our speakers and the audience.”
Speaker and project administrator for Seaview Jayne Olorunda said she felt the conference opened the door for Seaview to hold the event annually and the organisation was enthused by the support and interaction throughout the day.
Jayne said: “Our speakers were from very diverse backgrounds and were all received very well by the delegates. It was my job to introduce the conference and Seaview. I played a clip from Nelson Mandela and discussed the sports power in unifying people where nothing else can. I was glad to report that Seaview has exceeded its targets and this is largely due to community buy in. I also pointed out that I see Seaview’s success being attributed to, in part, the fact that we are a proactive organisation rather than reactive. If there is an issue threatening a shared space we do what we can to address it.
“Maura McMenamin informed people of the efforts the Gaelic Athletic Association has made to promote community relations while local historian Edward McCambley discussed the demographics of north belfast and gave a very real picture of how segregated it is and said its is something we can't ignore.
“Duncan Morrow, former chief executive of the Community Relations Council, discussed the unique nature of our project and the potential it has.”
And in answer to the question “Can sport build for a shared society?” Bernard Thompson from Seaview said: “Sport has played a pivotal role for decades in uniting people from different cultures and backgrounds. This year we look forward to the World Cup in Brazil where people from all around the world will celebrate the successes of their nation.
“In 2012 we had the London Olympic Games which were a great occasion to celebrate the beauty of sport and how it can impact on people's lives in a very positive way.
“Locally we have some fantastic success stories in how sport can help people build bridges and break down barriers that have existed for too long.
“At Seaview Enterprises, community relations, peace and reconciliation and providing valuable learning experiences is what we advocate and we believe that having an understanding of different cultures can help us move forward and create a shared space that we can all be proud of.”
BACKGROUND TO SPEAKERS
Jayne Olorunda: introduced the work of Seaview Enterprises 'Mes Que Un Club' project, the positive interventions it has taken and aims to take. How Seaview’s work plays a part in addressing both the past and the future in North Belfast and NI as a whole.
Jayne is a project administrator at Seaview Enterprises as well as author of Legacy, the story of her father Max Olorunda’s death following an IRA incendiary device detonated prematurely on a train from Ballymena to Belfast in 1980.
Edward McCamley: discussed North Belfast and Northern Ireland, the changing demographics and how social change is often driven from the ground up.
Edward is an historian and former head of history in local school BRA discusses North Belfast and Northern Ireland the changing demographics and how social change is often driven from the ground up.
Michael Boyd: asked can football address the problems. He also talked about why was Football For All was established? The obstacles NI football has faced and how FFA addressed /addresses these.
Michael is Director of the IFA's football development responsible for all aspects of football development. Prior to this he spent 13 years leading the IFA's football for all campaign.
Maura McMenamin: talked about the role of GAA in building bridges and the changing face of GAA, where it was and where it is now.
Duncan Morrow: discussed the Journey to Peace, where NI is now on its journey towards peace and the vital part sport can play.
Duncan was the former chief executive of the Community relations council and has been actively involved in trying to address sectarianism. He is currently community engagement leas at the University of Ulster.